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The Childhood of Jesus [Kindle Edition]

J M Coetzee
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Praise for The Childhood of Jesus

“[The Childhood of Jesus] plunges us at once into a mysterious and dreamlike terrain….A Kafka-inspired parable of the quest for meaning itself.”—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review (front page)

“A return to form….[Coetzee’s] most brisk and dazzling book.”—Benjamin Lytal, The Daily Beast

“Compelling—eerie, tautly written.”—Los Angeles Times

“[Coetzee] is a consummate withholder, one of the great masters of the unsaid and the inexplicit.”—The New York Review of Books

“Gripping from the very first page.”—Bookforum

“[Coetzee’s] great talent has always been to make the reader…feel as though he is writing for her alone, challenging her to ask herself the same questions he puts to his characters….The Childhood of Jesus…explores the enduring question of what a just and compassionate world might look like.”—The Nation

“[Coetzee] uses his icy, pitch-perfect prose to create a mysterious, Kafkaesque world….utterly enigmatic.”—Mother Jones (Best Books of 2013)

“[The Childhood of Jesus] is the story of a boy named David….His character is both uniquely and universally profound. In one moment, he is like no child to have ever existed. In the next moment, he captures perfectly the essence of all children, everywhere.”—The Atlantic (Best Books Read This Year)

The Childhood of Jesus—this cryptic, mythic, haunting fable—ranks among J. M. Coetzee’s best.”—The Chicago Tribune

“With this powerful and puzzling novel, Nobel laureate Coetzee…returns to the allegorical focus that defined Waiting for the Barbarians.”—Booklist (starred)

“Captivating and provocative….Coetzee’s precise prose is at once rich and austere, lean and textured, deceptively straightforward and yet expansive, as he considers what is required, not just of the body, but by the heart.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“At once lucid and elusive….The prose is clear and flat in the special way that Coetzee has perfected.”—David Sexton, London Evening Standard (UK)

“Pure, simple prose….Vividly real.”—Sunday Express (UK)

“Beautifully put together,”—The Spectator (UK)

“The inspiring gospel according to J. M. Coetzee.”—The Herald (UK)


The mysterious, masterful new novel from J.M. Coetzee, twice winner of the Booker Prize and winner of the Nobel Prize


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1319 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 289 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0670014656
  • Verlag: Vintage Digital (7. März 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B009P219KY
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #117.505 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Seltsame neue Welt 18. Oktober 2013
Von Felix Richter TOP 500 REZENSENT
Ein Mann und ein kleiner Junge gelangen als Flüchtlinge in ein neues, unbekanntes und äußerst seltsames Land. Der Junge, David, ist auf der Flucht (oder schon vorher?) von seiner Mutter getrennt worden; einen Brief, der wohl Hinweise auf die Mutter enthält, hat er verloren. Der Mann, Simón, hat den Kleinen unter seine Fittiche genommen und wird alles daran setzen, die Mutter zu finden.

Nach anfänglichen, beinahe kafkaesken Schwierigkeiten bekommen die beiden eine Unterkunft, und Simón findet Arbeit als Schauermann im Hafen. Die Kollegen nehmen ihn freundlich auf und helfen ihm, bei der harten körperlichen Arbeit Tritt zu fassen. Die technologische Rückständigkeit, mit der sie ausgeübt wird, wundert Simón sehr; seine Versuche, das zu hinterfragen oder gar zu ändern, stoßen weitgehend auf Unverständnis.

Das neue Land ist von nachgerade nordkoreanischer Schlichtheit. Der Besuch der Volkshochschule gehört hier zum Aufregendsten, was man abends unternehmen kann: Simóns Kollegen belegen dort Philosophiekurse, in denen sie auf Platos Spuren wandeln und beispielsweise das Stuhlhafte der Stühle ergründen. Für Simón, der andere Vorstellungen von einem erfüllten Leben hat, ist das nicht das Richtige. Der hätte lieber den Aktzeichenkurs besucht, der allerdings ausgebucht ist, wenn auch nicht aus den Gründen, die man erwartet und beinahe als tröstliche Normalität empfunden hätte.

Alle Einwohner des Landes scheinen hier auf ähnliche Weise angekommen zu sein - der erste von zahlreichen Hinweisen, es könnte sich um eine Art Jenseits handeln.
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War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
0 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen expected more 30. September 2013
Von dion
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Not a bad read but starts to go in circles after 50%. For me I expected more and surely had more potential.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.2 von 5 Sternen  54 Rezensionen
21 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Enigmatic, with fascinating possible clues 21. Oktober 2013
Von T. Stroll - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe

If I recall correctly, in Arthur C. Clarke's novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" the astronaut Dave Bowman, having been catapulted through a wormhole in space into the confines of the replica French provincial apartment where he will rapidly age and die, leafs through a phone directory and sees that its text is fuzzy, as if copied imperfectly from afar.

The same seems to be true of Novilla, the mysterious city, a Spanish-speaking urban no-man's-land, that seems to have no original residents but only transferees via first a boat trip and then passage through the Belstar relocation camp. The main characters, the adult guardian Simón and the five-year-old David, are among them.

Novilla seems to embody an imperfect copy of a city made by a creator whose grasp of human institutions is imperfect. This creator has taken a stab at realizing an ideal version of human existence, possibly in an effort to realize Karl Marx's classless society. But the results don't quite work. In Novilla, there is no want and no economic conflict. But life is bland and largely scripted, as exemplified by the boarding-school-cafeteria food and the uncontroversial classes offered at the adult-education institute. The creator, like the mysterious civilization in "2001," could not plan for nuance, but only brush with broad strokes based on an ideal form absorbed from a distance.

The playful and brilliant J.M. Coetzee provides clues to this. I found two mistakes that Coetzee wouldn't make. I say this confidently because his English is impeccable, his Spanish is impeccable, and his novels are, as far as I've read them, flawless in the execution. Not so here, so any errors must be deliberate.

First, David (mistakenly thinking the text to be English, not German) recites a verse his voice teacher has taught him from the Erlkönig, a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. However (but the reader isn't told this), the version is flawed. In the novel, the first line David recites is:

Wer reitet so spät durch Dampf und Wind?

but in the actual poem, the first line is:

Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?

The word "night" has been turned into "steam." The first verse is altered in other places too.

The other seemingly deliberate mistake, which Coetzee kindly makes less subtle, is that the reformatory school to which the authorities want to send David is located at "Punto Arenas." The only geographic name I know of that begins with "Punto" is a place in Venezuela called Punto Fijo. There seem to be a couple of others, but generally, the geographic term "Point" is, in Spanish, "Punta," not "Punto," and of course Punta Arenas is located at Chile's southern tip.

If this weren't enough, there's everyday evidence of imperfection, at the hands of a benevolent but not omniscient central planner. People aren't at their jobs, grain piles up in a warehouse only to be consumed by rats, machinery isn't properly maintained, etc.

So who lives in Novilla? Evidently it's occupied by the dead in their afterlives.

I'm guessing that the land of Novilla is in fact limbo or purgatory. Having arrived there via Belstar, there is no possibility of return. "The harbour master at Belstar won't let anyone take the boat back to the old life," Simón tells David. "He is very strict about that." According to Wikipedia, the Erlkönig "depicts the death of a child assailed by a supernatural being," which yet more evidence that David is dead. Simón and David have been sent there postmortem, missing out on heaven through some unavoidable circumstance, character fault and/or minor misstep that we don't learn about. The most we see generally is that Simón can be dour and cranky and a spoilsport, as when he ruins the enjoyment of the sausages David is about to eat. The tension in the novel derives from the fact that Simón has retained his idiosyncratic humanity, whereas almost everyone else in Novilla (aside from Inés, David's other guardian, and perhaps Señor Daga) has been reduced to the norms of the therapeutic state and placidly accepts them. Something may have gone awry in the transit through the Belstar relocation camp, which is probably where the creator or supreme being sorts people out for heaven, purgatory/limbo, or hell.

At the end of the novel, Simón, David, and Inés flee Novilla and the prospect of David's remand to the Punto Arenas reformatory to a city about 500 kilometers away, Estrellita del Norte, there to begin life anew. My guess is that they are fated, like the Lazarus character in an episode of the original "Star Trek" series, or like Sisyphus, to take up the task of relocating and relocating for all eternity. Each new place will present some problem and they'll move on.

I think this is a fabulous novel. Some books keep people awake at night because they can't put them down. "The Childhood of Jesus" kept me awake on the night after I finished it because I couldn't stop trying to divine its meaning. What I've set down here is my best effort.
15 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A Fable, a Fantasy, or What? 8. September 2013
Von Roger Brunyate - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Simón, a man in his forties, arrives at a refugee reception center in a coastal town, accompanied by a small child, David. He is not the boy's father, but met him on the boat taking them to this unnamed Spanish-speaking country. David has lost the papers given him by his mother, and Simón agrees to look after him until his mother can be found, guarding him through several months in a transit camp, and now bringing him along as he looks for work and a place to live. So far, the typical refugee story, though told in a simple direct style that is refreshingly different from some of the postmodern tricks and stylistic obscurities that Coetzee had been practicing in many of his later books. But this one will turn out to be obscure also, in its own way.

For this country is not like any other. The people are unfailingly helpful, but what they provide are the minima: a slice of bread, a roof over one's head. Transportation and many services are free, and work is easy to find; Simón takes a job as a stevedore, and his foreman and colleagues are kind and patient as he finds his feet. People seem mostly to live in simple rooms in small apartment blocks; whatever their work, they all seem to have adequate funds to buy the limited range of food and merchandise sold in the few stores. Conversation (the book is almost entirely in dialogue) is relatively open and easy, but also passionless. When Simón shows an attraction to one woman, she points out the logical absurdity of wishing "to push part of your body inside me"; when he is attracted to another, she permits sex, but only as an irrelevant adjunct to their comradely friendship.

What is this place? A socialist-inflected heaven? The end of the road, whatever it is, not a transit station to somewhere else; boats arrive, but passengers do not leave. When Simón casually uses the phrase "the best of all possible worlds" to his foreman, he gets the reply: "This isn't a possible world; it is the only world. Whether that makes it the best is not for you or me to decide." People talk of coming to this country "washed clean" of former memories and desires, to start again in a new life. Simón looks at his new friends and wonders "how much longer before he [too] will emerge as a new, perfected man?"

Coetzee has written parables before, set in imaginary places; WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS comes to mind. But that was a searing political fable, a coded but recognizable attack on the injustices in his native South Africa. But this one is a mystery I am quite unable to understand. What is its message? Where is it going? Why did it end when it did? Is the title simply ironical, or is there a religious message here? There are little flashes of Biblical language, and a striking but brief moment late in the book that has overtones of the child Jesus in the Temple, but nothing consistent. David grows and is sent to school, but nobody knows what to make of his combination of intelligence and learning difficulties. He is a lovely child with a vivid imagination, who just doesn't fit in. Is THIS perhaps the point, that the whole story is a tribute to the importance of the imagination in a world that increasingly tries to quash it? If so, I would applaud -- if only Coetzee had found a clearer and more compelling way to make it. [3.5 stars, rounded down]
18 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen I don't get it 19. Oktober 2013
Von J. A. Haverstick - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I don't get this book is averaging 3 stars! I started reading Coetzee when he won the Nobel for Disgrace, then read thru the whole ouevre and his literary reviews as they appeared in the New York Review of Books. I'll admit I was getting a little burned out, I thought some of the later stuff was getting too didactic and flat. But this...what a book! I'm in love all over again. I think you're especially going to like if you've got a little background in philosophy, Plato figures a lot - though is only once mentioned as the name of Mickey Mouse's dog(sic) - and there are some references to some 20th century thought, too. Coetzee's been reading, apparently. The kind of mysticism, supernaturalism or whatever you want to call it involved in the religious experience is is just masterfully ( I can't think of a less cliched word) presented. It sure gave me some moments of reflection and insight. And, of course, it's just fun to try to relate the various episodes to the actual biography of Jesus. Additionally, the cultural backdrop he dreams up, a totally bland, good, almost "morally advanced" society is wonderfully done. There's a good deal of self-realization in the characters that takes place, too. I'd say if you liked anything Coetzee has written, take this out for a spin.
21 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A tour de force 11. April 2013
Von Philip Cassell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
If I had the time I would dispense with the cliches, but tour de force gives you the general idea.
Though this novel is allegorical, it is impossible to give an unambiguous rendering of what the narrative represents.
I found it completely absorbing, even though its anchoring in 'realism' is only partial; Coetzee is able to construct an entirely viable story from a restricted repertoire of characters and contexts.
There is an excellent review of The Childhood of Jesus in the London Review of Books.
Coetzee is a literary great who surpasses the conventionally acknowledged masters of the twentieth century.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Loved it for its plain-voiced philosophical bent 25. Juni 2014
Von guppy man - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This was my first experience with a Coetzee novel. I think I picked it because I wanted to get acquainted with this Nobel Prize winner, and it was short (about 270 pages). For me the novel was a real page-turner. I flew through it in two days. I loved it. It reminded me of novels like "Train Dreams" by Denis Johnson, "Point Omega" by Don DeLillo, and "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller. I can't say why exactly--small cast of characters, spare prose, strange. Unlike some reviewers I was unimpressed with possible connections to the "New Testament" account of the boyhood of Jesus. I was far more caught up in the contest between Reason and Intuition: Immanuel Kant was never mentioned, but he seemed to be present on every page.
I almost never write reviews, but the three-star average given this novel just seemed far too low.
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